President Trump is planning to stop payments for Obamacare subsidies that help low-income Americans pay for health care, the White House said Thursday night.
The announcement comes after Trump signed an executive order that aims to give healthier people cheaper options outside of the Obamacare exchanges.
In a series of tweets on Friday morning, Trump called on Democrats to abandon the current system and work with him to fix Obamacare.
The Democrats ObamaCare is imploding. Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2017
ObamaCare is a broken mess. Piece by piece we will now begin the process of giving America the great HealthCare it deserves!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2017
Nearly 6 million Obamacare enrollees qualify for cost-sharing subsidies this year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The subsidies are expected to cost the federal government about $7 billion in 2017.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the decision was "based on guidance from the Justice Department."
"The bailout of insurance companies through these unlawful payments is yet another example of how the previous administration abused taxpayer dollars and skirted the law to prop up a broken system," Sanders said in a statement.
Congressional Republicans sued the Obama administration over the payments, arguing the payments were illegal because they were not appropriated by Congress.
A district court judge agreed with the House Republicans. The case has been sent to the U.S. appeals court in Washington.
The Trump administration had continued to make monthly payments but had threatened to cut them off in the past.
In a joint statement, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called Trump's decision a "spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America."
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have urged Trump to continue paying the subsidies, with some suggesting the White House should make a longer-term commitment on the payments to give more certainty to wary insurers.
Uncertainty over the payments has driven many insurers to jack up their premiums for 2018, and some insurers have already fled the individual market for 2018.
Lawmakers in both the House and the Senate have been working together to come up with solutions to stabilize the markets and some lawmakers have called on their colleagues to work together to formally appropriate money for the subsidies.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that premiums for a standard "silver" plan will increase by about 20 percent without the subsidies.
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